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A Professional 4 Day Course on Blockchain @ The Gershon Fintech Center HUJI

December 9, 2018 @ 4:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Professional Course open to the public by registration only:

Blockchains and distributed ledgers
By Prof. Alexander Lipton, MIT, one of the world’s leading professional in the field of blockchain

The course is aimed for Financial Professionals, Regulators, Fintech Start-up entrepreneurs and their management team, students from business, computer sciences, engineering and law disciplines.

The course will take place in Mount Scopus Campus, Jerusalem in December 9,10,11,12, 2018, from 16:30-20:30.

Alexander Lipton is the Founder and CEO of Stronghold Labs, Co-Founder of Distilled Analytics, Partner at Numeraire Financial, Connection Science Fellow at MIT, and Visiting Professor of Financial Engineering at EPFL. He is an Advisory Board Member at several FinTech Companies. In 2016 he left Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he served for ten years in various senior managerial roles including Quantitative Solutions Executive and Co-Head of the Global Quantitative Group. Earlier, he held senior managerial positions at Citadel Investment Group, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Bankers Trust. In parallel, Alex held several prestigious academic appointments at NYU, Oxford University, Imperial College, and the University of Illinois. Before switching to finance, Alex was a Full Professor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois. In 2000 Alex was awarded the first ever Quant of the Year Award by Risk Magazine. Alex published seven books and more than a hundred scientific papers. His next book “Financial Engineering – Selected Works of Alexander Lipton” is to appear shortly.

About the course:
This course provides an introduction to distributed ledger technology, blockchains and cryptocurrencies, and their potential applications in finance and banking. We cover the basics of cryptography and its applications to cryptocurrencies; examples to centralized cryptocurrencies; foundations of modern decentralized cryptocurrencies; Byzantine fault tolerant consensus; mechanics of Bitcoin platform including storage, mining, wallets, etc.; alternative platforms, including Ethereum; smart contracts; potential applications of decentralized ledgers in finance and their pros and cons.

By the end of the course, the participants will be able to:

Use basic cryptographic concepts including private/public keys, signatures, hash functions, Merkle trees;
Distinguish pros and cons of centralized versus decentralized databases;
Demonstrate several historical examples of electronic money;
Quantify alternative approaches to Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus including proof of work, proof of stake, etc.;
Characterize the basic setup of Bitcoin, including storage, mining, and payments;
Argue the limits of privacy with distributed ledgers and possible solutions, such as channeling, coin-joining, confidential transactions and zero-knowledge proofs;
Analyze some of the potential applications of distributed ledger technology to finance and banking;
Elaborate inherent scalability limits of distributed ledgers and potential solutions with channeling, horizontal scaling and second-layer, off-chain transactions;
Assess / Evaluate differences and commonalities among different cryptocurrencies
Implement basic smart contracts
Course Topics
Overview of blockchain technology
Blocks and blockchain
Consensus building
Mining and incentivizing blockchain
Security and safeguards
Blockchain applications
Blockchain applications (cont.)
Final Project
Syllabus of the course:
Day 1:

Course Introduction
Course objectives and outcomes
History of centralized services, trusted third party for transactions
Making a case for a trustless system
Why blockchain
You are your own bank?
Decentralized transactions
No permission for transactions needed
How and when blockchain/bitcoin started
Milestones on the development of bitcoin
Criticism, ridicule and promise of bitcoin
Sharing economy
Internet of Value
Additional reading:

Assignment: Explore various popular blockchain applications. Create a list of those applications and the industries/businesses they are impacting

Overview of blockchain technology
What is blockchain
Verify and confirm blocks
Additional reading:

Assignment: Explore the bitcoin blockchain on

Hash cryptography
Encryption vs hashing
Additional reading:

Assignment: Use an online service to generate hashes for content

Day 2:

Recording transactions
Digital signature
Verifying and confirming transactions
Additional reading:

Assignment: Build a transaction and then hash it. Generate public and private keys. Digitally sign a


Blocks and blockchain
Hash pointers
Additional reading:…

Assignment: Explore the bitcoin blockchain on for block generation. Explore how long it

takes a block to be confirmed.

Consensus building
Distributed consensus
Byzantine generals problem
Proof of work, Proof of Stake, Proof of Space etc.
Writing to the blockchain
Additional reading:

Assignment: Use an online service to illustrate how consensus is built in a distributed system with no

central authority.

Mining and incentivizing blockchain
Game theory behind competitive mining
Race to beat the others (including hackers)
Proof of work
Incentives – mining and transaction fees
CPU considerations
Energy expended in mining
Mining pools
Additional reading:

Assignment: What is the computing power needed to mine and generate bitcoin? Explore if miner pools

are dominating bitcoin mining. Compare incentives from mining activity vs transaction fees.

Day 3:

Security and safeguards
Protecting blockchain from attackers
Forks – soft and hard
Additional reading:…

Bitcoin creation and economy
Bitcoin exchanges
Bitcoin limited supply and deflation?
Famous hacks
Scalability (1MB problem)
Additional reading (second time):

Assignment: Install a bitcoin wallet. Generate and secure your private key. Send a small transaction

amount (to be monetized by instructor) to another user. Track the transaction through blockchain. Verify the confirmation and commitment of the transaction to the bitcoin blockchain.

Blockchain applications
Identity management
Auto executing contracts
Three signature escrow
Triple entry accounting
Elections and voting?
Additional reading:—blockchai…

Assignment: Pick three industries. Research the application of blockchain in those industries. Describe

how blockchain could be successful in those industries.

Day 4:

Blockchain applications (cont.)
Identity management
Property records, titles
Additional reading:—blockchai…

Final Project
Introduction to Ethereum platform
Design a new blockchain
Potential for disruption
How to incentivize blockchain
Design a Distributed Application (DAPP)
Additional reading:…


December 9, 2018
4:30 pm - 8:30 pm


Gershon Fintech Center, The School of Business Administration, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gershon Fintech Center, The School of Business Administration, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem + Google Map